Maple Leafs: Nick Robertson missing world juniors the tough but right call

Nicholas Robertson #89 of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
Nicholas Robertson #89 of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /

Nick Robertson won’t be playing in the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship as he will be focusing on the upcoming season with the Toronto Maple Leafs

Heading into the holiday season, Toronto Maple Leafs fans will look fill the void of no NHL games with the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship tournament.

Part of the excitement was the opportunity to watch Nick Robertson play in a featured role for Team USA. Leafs fans got to see Robertson in last year’s world juniors where he scored five points in five games to go along with the 55 goals and 86 points in 46 games.

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This opened up the opportunity for the second-round pick from the 2019 NHL Draft to get into all four of the Leafs play-in games during the NHL restart. According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, Robertson remained in Canada to train for the upcoming NHL season.

Many have wondered what the Leafs would do with Robertson going into this season, and part of the conversation looked at having him join the U.S. in Edmonton. However, with NHL training camps expected to start on Jan. 3, Robertson and the Leafs are taking a similar route that other teams are with their young players and focusing on the season.

This likely would have been a different story if Robertson didn’t have to quarantine for seven days travelling from Edmonton to Toronto after the tournament. This would likely keep him from training camp which will be vital if there are no pre-season games.

Granted, Robertson would have had an advantage of playing competitive, high stakes games that would have put him in a good position to be ready for the start of the season. Instead, it’s clear he and the team want him to be ready to play against NHL-level competition.

It also doesn’t hurt for him to be playing with high-quality veterans and competing against them for ice time. He already showed an ability to do that last year but this season is going to be different.

"“I’m preparing mentally. I know the Leafs signed a lot of guys and everything like that, but I’m pretty confident in myself,” Robertson told Sportsnet.  “I hope I do good and I’m confident I will, but depending on how long camp is I don’t think they’re going to judge who is going to be on the squad through that day. It’s also going to be pre-season. I don’t know how many pre-season games there are, but maybe even in the regular season that’s still a tryout, too.“You never know if they’re going to give you a few games in the regular season and then go from there. You know every day is kind of a tryout for me, too, I guess you could say.”"

It’s also comforting to see Robertson focus on making the NHL as his primary goal considering he decided to be away from his family during a pandemic to train in Toronto. This is part of the reason why he has come so far since being drafted in 2019.

For Leafs fans, there will still be plenty to watch for at the world juniors with six other prospects playing there. We will have more on them as we get closer to the start of the tournament.

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Do you think the Leafs and Robertson are making the right choice for him to skip the world juniors? What are your expectations for him leading into this season? Let us know in the comments below.